Discover more from The Crunchwrap by Adam Chandler
Stories That Explain the Moment We're In
+ A recipe for nachos you won't believe!
Here at The Crunchwrap, we’re looking to figure out how best to be useful in 2022. Sometimes that feels like offering a break from the gloom and doomscrolling with some levity and stakes-free discovery. Other times, it seems like drilling down into the uncertainty of circumstances and seeing what sense can be made of them is what’s called for. Oftentimes, it’s both!
This is a way of saying, I haven’t quite sorted it out yet. But I’m always grateful for your feedback, even if it was to say that the poblano casserole in last week’s post looked kinda gross. (You know who you are.)
Anyhow, the metrics that Substack gives me about posts, traffic, links clicked, etc., is only insightful to a point (and a total grab bag thus far) so don’t be shy. And if you only signed up for taco-themed content, the next few weeks are going to be great.
It’s not earth-shattering to say that things seem weird, muddled, in flux, and hard to pin down. Here are a few stories that I found extremely useful in making sense of why.
I thought this piece by Nicole Hong about the inflation-flecked demise of the hallowed $1 pizza slice in NYC was a masterclass in making many of the messy economic forces at play accessible:
For pizzerias, each ingredient has become more expensive for its own reasons, economists say.
A severe drought in parts of the U.S. and Canada decimated wheat crops, driving up flour prices. Worker shortages at meat-processing plants led to higher prices for pepperoni. Pizzeria owners buying canned tomatoes from Italy or red chile flakes from India face higher shipping costs. A winter freeze in Texas earlier this year curtailed the production of resin, a raw ingredient in plastic straws and packaging materials like shrink wrap. And in perhaps the biggest shortage of all for pizzerias, reliance on food delivery during the pandemic prompted a surge in demand and increased prices for pizza boxes, paper plates and takeout containers.
Why Everything Feels Broken
The failure of our institutions to protect and lead us is a policy choice. Or a series of them. We hear this a lot. What Derek Thompson offers this week is a huge, scoping view of the polarized American terrain and the inspiring contours of some actual solutions to the structural problems.
Altogether, America has too much venting and not enough inventing. We say that we want to save the planet from climate change—but in practice, many Americans are basically dead set against the clean-energy revolution, with even liberal states shutting down zero-carbon nuclear plants and protesting solar-power projects. We say that housing is a human right—but our richest cities have made it excruciatingly difficult to build new houses, infrastructure, or megaprojects. Politicians say that they want better health care—but they tolerate a catastrophically slow-footed FDA that withholds promising tools, and a federal policy that deliberately limits the supply of physicians.
Battling COVID vs. Battling Each Other
Technically, the cases turned on the question of whether a particular branch of the federal government had authority to impose these requirements in a pandemic that has, as the dissenters in the broader workplace case plainly point out, “killed almost 1 million Americans and hospitalized almost 4 million.” …
In the case regulating all workplaces over 100 employees, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has the ability to issue an emergency standard when employees are “exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or from new hazards,” which sounds a lot like COVID-19. All of the conservative justices insist that what OSHA imposed in response is a “vaccine mandate,” even though there are plenty of ways to get out of it: testing negative weekly; working from home, alone, or outdoors; even claiming religious or medical exemptions. They say the rule is unprecedented, “a significant encroachment into the lives — and health — of a vast number of employees.” Then again, so is the pandemic.
How long into this video can you go without feeling supremely uncomfortable? (I made it about a minute.) But it’s still fascinating to watch the richest person in the world stuck in an interaction with David Blaine that he absolutely hates.
Snack of the Week: Bell Pepper Nachos
Look, like a lot of other idiots out there, I’m trying live a slightly healthier life in January. So in lieu of regular nachos (or even microwaved comfort nachos, which Doug Mack paid tribute to in his excellent snack-themed newsletter), I made them with bell peppers instead of chips.
It’s a pretty easy. Grill up some ground beef/turkey/chicken/mushrooms spiced with cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, chipotle powder, etc., put them on some bell pepper slices, add cheese, and bake ‘em for 12 minutes at 375. It took about 25 minutes. Still the culinary purists/stoners on my Instagram stories came for me:
Nu, what else?
The scourge of “political hobbyism” isn’t new or even a newly noted phenomenon. But Ezra Klein gives us a smart reminder of why we should organize more and rant less online.
I’m making my way through the new second season of one of my favorite comedies, South Side (HBO Max), which is a sitcom about money, debt, and Black life in Chicago. As Doreen St. Felix raves, that these are not the tradition makings of comedy is what makes it so good.
What is Wordle? Why are people obsessed with this game? And can it make us less depressed? Lisa Bonos investigates.
That’s it for this Crunchwrap! Stay safe out there.
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